culture valkyrie: why lana del rey cannot be a feminist role model
I really want to like Lana Del Rey. Partly, this is because of my fascination with how Lana-bashing has swiftly taken over from Zooey-bashing by the kind of boys who howl feverishly when realising that their manic-pixie-dream-girls are, in fact, manufactured-pixels-on-a-director’s-screen girls. Something about the horror delights me. Chicks with collagen-injected lips and personal stylists don’t hang around your local dive bar, my friend.
I also really enjoy chilling out to Lana’s music. It’s beautiful and melodic, and I think she is gorgeous to look at, surgery or not. I think she gets an incredibly bad rap for that – she’s not the only manufactured singer around, but somehow by having the perceived audacity to style herself as “alternative” she’s been lambasted.
Her melodies are great, her montage-style music clips are weirdly good, and her video interviews are hilarious if only for the way she stalls for time by drawling the words “thematically, visually, and cinematically” in her bizarre Betty-Boop voice. I also love to hate her. But when examining her misogynistic song lyrics I’m coming to the conclusion that I should probably loathe her.
Exhibit A: Lana’s break-out hit, ‘Video Games‘.
“Swinging in the backyard / pull up in your fast car / whistling my name / open up a beer/ and you say get over here/ and play your video game.
“I’m in his favourite sun dress / watching me get undressed / take that body downtown / put his favourite perfume on / go play your video game“.
Spritzing on your best eau de toilette so your beau can briefly sniff your neck before staring at a screen for hours on end while he plays Skyrim? This just reminds me of my housewife Grandmother who used to put on a full face of makeup at 5pm before her husband came home to light up a Camel and tell off the kids. Something’s not right in Pleasantville.
And then there’s her song ‘Yayo‘. It sends a chill down my spine, and I’m not talking about the haunting melody.
“Let me put on a show for you Daddy / Let me put on a show / Let me put on a show for you Tiger / Let me put on a show“.
And again, from the imaginatively titled ditty, ‘You Can Be the Boss‘.
“You can be the boss Daddy/ You can be the boss“.
In ‘This Is What Makes Us Girls‘, Lana gets even creepier.
“Know we used to go break in / to the hotel pool, glittering we’d swim / Runnin’ from the cops in our black bikini tops / screaming ‘Get us while we’re hot!’”
And then the chorus:
“This is what makes us girls, We don’t stick together coz we put love first“.
The fact that she thinks women “don’t stick together” when men are around is a really sad, awful stereotype. Juxtaposed with images of blatant sexualisation posing as anarchy, this song is just a rotten little apple.
And then there’s this one – ‘Blue Jeans‘.
“I will love you til the end of time / I would wait a million years/ Promise you’ll remember that you’re mine / Baby can you see through the tears / Love you more / Than those bitches before“.
“Those bitches before?” You seriously say that? Hot tip: really good first step to kicking misogyny in the pants is to stop referring to women as “those bitches”.
It’s bad enough that Soulja Boy does it. How can women be a powerful and cohesive force for change if you keep talking all this crap, Lana? Pump your lips, primp your hair, alter your name, be a train-wreck on Saturday Night Live…but just don’t talk that way.